An order by the Federal Government’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal threatens to destroy the livelihood of tens of thousands of owner-operator truck drivers, according to industry groups.
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, established by the Gillard Government in 2012, is an independent body led by former Fair Work Commission senior deputy president Jennifer Acton.
This week it handed down its Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order, which sets out to make the trucking industry safer by enforcing minimum amounts for drivers to charge customers.
In its draft form, the remuneration order was rejected by the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, which raised concerns that owner-drivers could be priced out of the market by large operators and other employers using a unionised workforce, as the new pricing regulations would not apply to them.
“The Australian road transport industry is made up of many different types of vehicles, freight, tasks, operating conditions and prevailing charging structure,” ALRTA president Grant Robins said last year.
“It is simply not possible to set one type of minimum rate for the entire freight contracting industry.
“On first glance, some owner-drivers may be attracted to the prospect of an increase in their rates. However, prime contractors who use their own vehicles staffed with employee drivers will not be subject to the minimum rates in the draft order and will be free to accept work at comparatively lower rates.”
The order was welcomed by the Transport Workers Union, which says the order will make the trucking industry safer.
“If we are serious about ending this carnage then we need to tackle the cause of the crashes: pressure on drivers to speed, drive long hours and delay maintenance to their trucks,” TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said earlier this month.